I have been wanting to blog about this topic for sometime now but couldn't quite figure out how to express clearly what it means to have unrealistic expectations. Basically my point is are you realistic in the progress you are expecting to make with the effort you are putting in? We hear it often-- "I am working out 2 days a week and eating healthy but I am not losing weight like I think I should be." There are many different factors in that statement that I could ask. What is the intensity of those workouts? Are you incorporating strength training into those or is it simply cardio based? What are you exact goals? What consists of "healthy" in your eyes and how much weight are you wanting to/expecting to lose a week? I am going to break this down a little bit and bring to light what reaching substantial weight loss and bodyfat looks like.
In theory weight loss is calories in vs. calories out. The reason i say "in theory" is because that isn't always the case but lets just stick with the mechanics behind that. Lets say your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is 1800 calories a day. What that means is you naturally with everyday life burn 1800 calories a day. Say you do not do any additional exercise ingest 2000 calories a day. That means at the end of each day you have a surplus of 200 calories. Well by the end of the week you're now at a surplus of 1400 calories which is half a pound. If that is a consistent normal for you then you have set yourself up for a slow and steady weight gain over time. That doesn't take into account any additional working out or high calorie intake days when maybe you enjoy pizza or a burger or some sweet treats.
On the flip side lets say your BMR is 1800 calories. You are intaking 1500 calories but you are also participating in a 500 calorie burn workout 7 days a week. That's a deficit of 800 calories a day . At the end of the week your total deficit would be 5,600 calories which is a loss of 1.6lbs. Do you see why it is important to combine not only nutrition with workouts for maximum results?
I want to emphasis in all of this is LIFE HAPPENS. There are vacations and birthday parties and bbq's and celebrations. This is however not an excuse to binge and undo all of your weeks hard work. Brooke from Mukilteo noticed her efforts were not producing her the results she wanted and initially expected. Here is what she had to say:
"About a year ago I was really frustrated because I wasn't seeing the progress I wanted both in how I look and felt. It seemed like I was doing what I needed....eating fairly clean and healthy and doing some cardio 2-3 times a week. Something obviously wasn't working though, so I decided to change it up and to step back and really take a look at what I was doing. Was it enough and was it the right kind of eating and exercise? I quickly discovered the answer was no. I'd eat clean all week and then binge on the weekends, which pretty much undid any of my hard work during the week. I'd also take 2-3 day breaks in between work outs which didn't give me the consistency that I needed to really get stronger and leaner. It wasn't until I took away (most) of those 'cheat days' and added in more regular strength training (in addition to cardio) that I saw and felt some real change. I finally worked with Megan at Emerge and found my sweet spot...strength training 3x a week, plus a couple days or cardio in there as well. While rest days are important, I also make sure not to go more than a day without moving my body....even if it's just for 30 minutes."
Another unrealistic expectation is "slow and steady". Ill put in 80% effort and Ill get 80% of the results and I am totally happy with that (kind of). Jody from Everett responded to that with this thought:
"If you are on vacation and you only make it halfway to your destination does that mean you get to enjoy half of your trip? No it means you never get to enjoy any of your trip. Thinking that if you put in 80% effort and you're going to get 80% results sounds good in a perfect world but it's not how it works. Making excuses like I only ate half of the burrito isn't going to get you to your goal. You have to give 100%."
Nikki from Snohomish was also in the same boat doing what she thought would get her the results that she was looking for but it was as simple as having us reevaluate her workout routine and fine tuning it in order to reach those results she was desiring. Here's what Nikki had to say about her journey:
'When I started my weight loss journey, I was doing a lot of cardio, and I was eating healthy, but I wasn’t eating as much as my body needed. I lost the weight, but I wanted to be toned. I wanted to feel good not just on the outside, but the inside also! When I started going to Megan and Jason, they gave me a food plan that seemed like so much food. I’m going to be honest, I was terrified that I was going to gain weight with it. I told myself, just give them 30 days and see what happens. I was totally blown way. I listened to not only their food plan, but their workouts they gave me. They cut my cardio down a good amount and upped my strength training. I was so incredibly happy. I didn’t see a complete transformation in 30 days, but I saw enough changes to push myself and give it my all to continue. Yes, there were months I would get frustrated because I didn’t notice the changes, but one I noticed my measurements were going down in my waist, and up in my arms and legs (What I wanted) and my body fat percentage went down, I was so completely happy. Changes don’t happen over night, I had to keep telling myself that. I’ve been on my journey for over a year now, with some months I took off. Well I came back…because I trust Megan and Jason so much. They know my body and they know what it takes to help me reach my goals."
So lets get to the heart of all of this. What does a recommended workout split look like? We always recommend to all of our clients 5 workouts per week for 45 minutes to 90 minutes. We also discourage taking 2 rest days in a row. This prevents metabolic slow down and keeps you in a routine.
A typical week for us and how we guide our clients would be:
Tuesday- Back and Biceps and 30 minutes of cardio
Thursday- Shoulders & Abs & 30 minutes of cardio
Friday- Chest and Triceps
Saturday- Long cardio 45min-60 minutes
As far as nutrition we work with each client individually to lay out a plan that works for them and is reasonable to their lifestyle. We don't follow any specific fad diet we believe in the power of a well rounded, whole foods diet that is controlled by portion control and timing. The basis of all of our nutrition plans is 6 meals a day, 2-3 hours apart containing a specific proportion based on individual height, weight, age & goal.
Obviously this all varies from person to person but this is a general suggestion that is tried and true to us as professional gym owners, personal trainers and competitors. My main point of this entire post is do you have unrealistic expectations of what it looks like to be successful? When you really take a hard look at what you're doing do you think you could do more? Are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone weekly? If the answer is no then maybe it's time to take it up a notch and put in the time & energy. You'll be glad you did and your body will reward you in getting to that goal you set even faster!
To your health,